Monday, November 30, 2009

The Best Super Mario Game Ever

I've been having the time of my life with New Super Mario Bros Wii, and now that I've finally reached the ending and defeated Bowser, I can confidently report that this truly is the best Mario ever.  The game is absolutely smashing fun from start to finish, deeply layered and richly textured.  The graphics are beautiful, warm, colorful, everything you ever wanted a 2D side-scrolling videogame to be.  Truly, this is the Super Mario Bros 5 we've demanded for so many years.

And then there is multiplayer.  4-Player Super Mario Brothers?  I know enough from my own experience with friends and family, and watching others play on Youtube, to know that your sense of fun doubles with each player that joins in.  This game manages to achieve an impossible challenge that has always haunted game design - how do you make a game that is equally challenging for single and multi-player?  New Super Mario Bros nails it perfectly.

While I have reached the ending, I am by no means finished.  I still have two whole worlds to explore, and many Star Coins to collect.  You will know when you have truly "beaten" this game - in addition to a congratulatory message, you will have five sparkly stars next to your name.  And unless you are an expert gamer, you'll have to play through Super Mario all over again from the beginning to reach that status.

And I couldn't be happier with that.  This is a game that is meant to be played endlessly, for months and years, just like the original Super Mario games on NES and Super NES.  The kids who first played Super Mario on their Nintendo in 1985 are now parents.  We can now share the excitement and the discoveries with our own children.  Nintendo has truly become a family tradition.

Can somebody please tell me why Sony and Microsoft are exclusively targeting 30-somethings?  The video games business cannot survive without generating new customers.  We were all kids when we were first playing these games.  And many of us would like to share that tradition with our children.  When I see the crowds of children at Nintendo's weekend mall attraction at the Mall of America, I can't help but be amazed.  Nintendo has those kids all to themselves.  And those kids are going to grow up to become lifetime fans.

As long as Shigeru Miyamoto and Nintendo can churn out games like Super Mario Bros 5, they'll have a license to print money.  They'll own this industry, if they don't already.

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